Joel Embiid Is Single-Handedly Changing the Sixers’ Outlook

Joel Embiid celebrates late in the 4th quarter during the Sixers 101-94 victory over the Miami Heat | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid has captured the attention of Philadelphia sports fans. | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“I’ve said many times you don’t want it to be a coach driven formula. Ultimately it needs to be player coached team, a player driven formula. The players determine the behavior. The players determine the culture. Where somebody will say that’s just not good enough. That’s not how we act. That’s not how we guard. We show up on time. That’s not respectful. Whatever it is. …And through discussion I have with Joel I’m trying to achieve that.”
— Sixers head coach Brett Brown, speaking to the media before the season.

That statement by head coach Brett Brown, at a media luncheon with reporters prior to the start of the season, seemed patently absurd at the time, made less than a year after Joel Embiid was the subject of a scathing report from Sports Illustrated alleging chronic insubordination, immaturity, and a ballooning midsection.

Rather than have Embiid lead the franchise, conventional wisdom said at the time, Embiid needed to have a strong personality alongside him to show him the way.

Under normal circumstances, that may have been true. But Embiid is no normal 22-year-old rookie.

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Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Their Wildly Separate Paths to the Sixers

Left: Joel Embiid (Cal Sport Media/Associated Press); right: Ben Simmons (Steven Freeman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Left: Joel Embiid (Cal Sport Media/Associated Press); right: Ben Simmons (Steven Freeman/NBAE/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons wears the face of a kid getting dragged to Sunday school when he’d rather settle in for a Call of Duty marathon with friends. He looks the part, too, a neatly buttoned white dress shirt and skinny black pants clinging to his lanky six-foot-10-inch, 20-year-old frame. His teammates on the 76ers are within arm’s reach, laughing and joking as they go through a pregame practice in gray t-shirts and blue shorts at the Wells Fargo Center.

Simmons wants to be out there with them, but for the moment he can only hover at the edge of the court and stare at the gleaming maple floor and the UFO-size Sixers logo. Pockets of fans who show up early for this mid-December matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers start to notice him standing there — the savior in the flesh. Ben. Ben. Hey, Simmons! Bennnn! He turns and walks down a tunnel to the locker room, frustrated, injured, alone. Read more »

Sixers Defense Leads The Way to 93-92 Win Over Blazers

Sixers center Joel Embiid congratulates Robert Covington, mid-interview, for his game winning basket | John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers center Joel Embiid congratulates Robert Covington, mid-interview, for his game winning basket | John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of the Sixers recent winning ways — which was extended to an 8-2 stretch of play after last night’s 93-92 victory over the visiting Portland Trailblazers — is the confidence the team has inspired from fans late in close games.

Defined over the last few years by their complete inability to execute down the stretch, the Sixers have flipped that script entirely over the last few weeks. As Kevin Pelton of ESPN pointed out last night, the Sixers went 4-22 in games decided by five or fewer points from October 2015 to December 29th, 2016. They’ve won five of their past six such contests since.

“Our guys, to their credit, they’re feeling good about themselves. They’re winning here at home, and we found a way to, again, win ugly,” head coach Brett Brown said after the game. “I think you have to give our guys, without Joel (Embiid), a lot of credit, a lot of credit, to be able to find a way to win at home under the circumstances we were in.”

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Report: Ben Simmons Debut Could Still Be A Month Away

Ben Simmons has signed his rookie contract with the Philadelphia 76ers | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, Ben Simmons debut could still be a month away | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, 76ers rookie Ben Simmons could make his NBA debut after the All-Star break.

The 76ers will have off from February 16th through February 23rd for the league’s All-Star break, returning to play on Friday, February 24th against the Washington Wizards.

According to Haynes, Simmons’ debut could come some time “shortly after the All-Star break” and “near March”, although no specifics were provided outside of that.

While Haynes said Simmons missing the entire season because of his injury was still a possibility, he did also report that the foot had completely healed.

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Sixers vs Hornets: Slowing Down Kemba Walker Critical to Continue Winning Ways

The Sixers will take on Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets tonight at the Wells Fargo Center | Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers will take on Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets tonight at the Wells Fargo Center | Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers will look to continue their winning ways tonight when they take on the visiting Charlotte Hornets at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers are riding high, winners in four of their last five games, the most recent being a thrilling 98-97 victory over the New York Knicks, a game which saw the team finish on a 15-4 run, culminating in a basket by T.J. McConnell as time expired for the win.

The schedule gets significantly more difficult starting tonight, with the Charlotte Hornets (20-19) in town. The Hornets have been struggling of late, dropping five of their last six games, albeit against strong competition (Cavs, Thunder, Spurs, Rockets), and slowed down by injuries to Cody Zeller and Nicolas Batum, both of whom should be back tonight.

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T.J. McConnell’s Buzzer Beater Lifts Sixers over Knicks in Last Second Win

Sixers center Joel Embiid celebrates with T.J. McConnell after McConnell's game-winning shot gave the Sixers a 98-98 victory | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers center Joel Embiid celebrates with T.J. McConnell after McConnell’s game-winning shot gave the Sixers a 98-98 victory | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers continued their winning ways, defeating the New York Knicks 98-97 Wednesday night on a buzzer beater by T.J. McConnell.

The Sixers were in position to win the game after coming all the way back from a 10 point deficit with 2:29 remaining. The comeback was led by rookie center Joel Embiid, who scored 8 of his team-high 21 points in the final 2+ minutes of play, not to mention numerous defensive stops on the other end of the court fueled by Embiid’s commanding presence.

Still, after Gerald Hendreson (12 points, 5-10 shooting) made a pair of free throws with 27.8 seconds remaining, the Knicks had the ball with the chance to extend their 1-point lead, but second year Latvian phenom Kristaps Porzingis missed a wide open three-point shot in the corner.

That set up a frantic final 5.8 seconds of play, with Gerald Henderson grabbing a floor board, eventually leading to T.J. McConnell’s baseline jumper as time expired to win the game.

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76ers to Sign Chasson Randle to 10-Day Contract

The Philadelphia 76ers will sign Chasson Randle to a 10-day contract | Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers will sign Chasson Randle to a 10-day contract | Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers will sign former Stanford guard Chasson Randle to a 10-day contract, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The news was first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical.

The Sixers had an available roster spot because of the decision to waive Hollis Thompson last week.

Randle was a four-year starter at Stanford, where the Cardinals compiled a 92-52 record during his college career. Randle averaged 19.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game as a senior, shooting 36.3 percent from three-point range on nearly 7 attempts per game. He shot 38.6 percent on 787 three-point attempts over the course of his four-year college career.

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Sixers Match Last Year’s Win Total With 105-95 Victory Over Nets

The Sixers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 105-95 Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center, matching their win total from last season | Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 105-95 Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center, matching their win total from last season | Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers overcame a sluggish start to defeat the Brooklyn Nets by a score of 105-95 Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center.

The Nets, who ranked 30th in the league in offensive efficiency heading into the game, took a 57-46 lead into halftime thanks to a 30-point second quarter, a game which had all the makings of a sluggish afternoon effort from Brett Brown‘s Sixers squad. The Nets were led by 18 first-half points from center Brook Lopez as they built their lead.

The Sixers came roaring back in the second half, scoring the first 13 points of the third quarter, taking their first lead of the game, at 59-57, on a Joel Embiid baseline jumper. Embiid scored 6 of the Sixers’ 13 points during that momentum-changing run.

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Celtics 110, Sixers 106: Violence at the Rim Foiled By Celtics Three Point Shooting

tj-mcconnell-2017010701

Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell dished out a career-high 17 assists in the Sixers 110-106 loss to the Celtics | Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It took 924 days, but Philadelphia 76ers fans finally saw the violence at the rim that they were promised when former general manager Sam Hinkie selected Joel Embiid 3rd overall in the 2014 draft, joining Nerlens Noel (6th overall in 2013) as the core of his young frontcourt.

But injuries got in the way. The expected recovery time for Embiid’s fractured navicular bone wiped away the 2014-15 season, then the 2015-16 season was lost to the unexpected second surgery Embiid required on the same injury. The pairing was further delayed by Noel’s surgery during training camp to address an inflamed plica, then delayed once more due to Brett Brown‘s desire to experiment with lineups that included Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together.

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